Vietnam should develop wind energy projects on mainland

Nguyen Ngoc Tan, a wind energy expert from Germany, recommended at a recent workshop on recycled energy development that in the immediate time, Vietnam should focus on developing wind farm projects on mainland.

Tan said that the investment costs for offshore wind energy projects are double the projects on mainland, Besides this, Vietnam would also have to face the risks during the construction and wind turbine operation at sea.

According to the expert, there are some 40 wind farms in the European countries like Germany, the UK, Denmark and Sweden. However, a recent survey in Germany showed that a lot of wind pillars on the sea have moved by one meter far from the original places after one year of operation, due to the seabed movement. Besides, the expenses for equipment maintenance would be very high to protect the equipments from the corrosion by sea salt.

It is clear that offshore wind power output will be double that on the mainland. However, as investors’ pockets are “limited”, in the immediate time, Vietnam should only think of implementing wind power projects on mainland, from which Vietnam would draw experiences for offshore projects.

In Europe and the US, a lot of wind power projects have been developed at sea, simply because offshore projects can bring higher production. Besides, the construction area is vast, and investors do not have to spend much money to compensate residents for site clearance.

According to the International Energy Agency IEA, the global wind power potential is about 1.3 million terawatt a year. In Vietnam, the figure is 500,000 MW a year.

To date, 20 wind power projects have been carried out in the sea cities and provinces, including Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Bac Lieu and Lam Dong. The Cong Ly Construction and Trade Company is building a wind power project on the sea surface of Bac Lieu province.

Also according to Tan, the average investment rate is 1 million euro per MW, while it takes investors 6-7 years on average to take back the investment capital. However, the costs would be higher in Vietnam, while investors may need up to 12 years to recover the investment capital, due to the poor infrastructure items which serve the transport and the construction of wind power pillars.

Regarding the impacts on the environment, ecology and human health of wind power projects, scientists say that they cannot see any worrying impacts from wind turbines. A research work conducted in Germany for two months (August and September 2005), showed that only 13 bats died because they hit the propellers.

The figures about the wind power potentials in Vietnam vary with different forecasts given by different institutions. The Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) believes that the figure could be 1785 MW. Meanwhile, scientific research institutes in Vietnam believe that the figures could be 10,000-20,000 MW. A research work by the World Bank released in 2000 showed the figure of 521 GW.

Vietnam needs a comprehensive evaluation about its wind potentials. Recently, the Renewable Energy of Vietnam (REVN) has completed the first phase of the wind farm project with the capacity of 120 MW in Binh Thuan province. 20 wind turbines with a capacity of 1.5 MW per wind turbine was successfully installed which have connected to the national grid. It is expected that 42 other wind power projects with a total capacity of 3906 MW would be implemented at different stages of development.